Inglorious: Inglorious (Frontiers)
Are Inglorious the next big thing? Well or arrows point to yes, with recent tour in support of The Winery Dogs, triumphant sets at Planet Rockstock, up and coming sets at Ramblin Man Fair and heavy rotation of debut single Until I Die on Planet Rock then there shouldn't be anything stopping this UK five piece from making it big. However is all this support warranted for a band on their debut album? Well yes in a way it is, now Inglorious don't do anything new, but with rock music being in what should be it's twilight years does anyone? Inglorious do what they do with a power many bands cannot muster, with a sound akin to Deep Purple, the aforementioned Until I Day which has the spirit of Jon Lord all over it, Led Zepplin on the swaggering Kashmir-esque High Flying Gypsy as well as Aerosmith, Bad Company (Holy Water) and Queen on Inglorious all thrown into sound that harks back to hard rock's 70's glory days.
With Wil Taylor on rhythm guitar, Colin Parkinson on bass and Phil Beaver behind the skins the band have a rock solid foundation of a back line that drive these songs from muddy water blues, to chest beating classic rock over the course of one album. With such a quality engine room you need something special up front and the fretboard fireworks of Andreas Eriksson are a perfect fit knowing just when to go wild with solos and lead breaks that make everything just so much more impressive. Speaking of impressive this band could have all the chops in the world but if the singer sucks then it's all for nothing, thankfully Nathan James has some voice indeed, already doing time with TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) and Uli Jon Roth, he is no stranger to performing but his gritty blues inflected vocal delivery is perfect for Inglorious' hard rock style on You're Mine he shows his expansive vocal range, on Bleed For You he gives a ballad performance David Coverdale would be proud of something repeated on Wake which is more Paul Rodgers but just as schmaltzy.
This album styles itself as almost a hard rock greatest hits with many of the songs having those familiar sounds of yesteryear, it's good job that Inglorious perform them with such conviction and talent that they sound new and fresh rather than a stale pastiche. Are they the next big thing? Probably. Do they deserve to be? On the evidence of this debut very much so! 8/10
Exmortus: Ride Forth (Prosthetic)
In a total reversal sound wise now, it's time for warmongering, facemetling death metal from Californians Exmortus. These guys have been a around since 2003 releasing their debut in 2008, not much since then has changed they still ply their trade with brutal, fret destroying technical death metal that owes much to the likes of Chuck Schuldiner's Death and Atheist as well as the German wave of thrash from Kreator etc. Think dual Jackson guitars shredding like bastards on top of bludgeoning blast beats and you won't be far off. Speed Of The Strike is a maelstrom of riffs from the opening seconds and the pace doesn't drop throughout with every song having David Rivera and Jadran 'Conan' Gonzalez battling for six string supremacy while the rhythm section of Mario Mortus and Mike Cosio blast away. Black Sails slows things down, with Maiden-like bass driven gallop albeit with Conan's guttural vocals still keeping the death metal sound. Exmortus have thrash and death in their influences of course this seems to be their bread and butter but also they have liberal uses of traditional metal with the battle metal sound of Manowar influencing the lyrics and the speed metal assault of latter day Priest sneaking in to. Ride Forth is Exmortus' fourth record and it sticks to the formula the band have followed since their inception so if you love technical death metal then Exmortus will gladly rip your face off with this record. 7/10
Sage's Ritual: The Winter Symphony (Self Released)
Do you like guitar solos? Do you like songs about Dragons and Wizards? Do you like the score from Lord Of The Rings? If the answer to all of these things is yes, then you will love Sage's Ritual, this is the projects started by Danish guitar virtuoso Niels Vejlyt who plays guitars, bass, keys and drummer Jakob Vand. Vejlyt also does all the orchestration for this album that is cinematic in scope merging classical music with guitar histrionics in the same way that Rhapsody and Yngwie Malmsteen have made a career from composing. Made up of seven songs including three instrumentals The Winter Symphony is a guitar lovers album, that said he hasn't skimped on the vocals recruiting former Artension and Royal Hunt mainman John West (not that one) to supply the sky scraping singing to the record. The brass tax of the record is that Vejlyt is a superb guitarist, there is no doubt about that but this album does seem to be a showcase for his playing rather than his songwriting which is all well and good as most of these songs are around 4 minutes so it's a bit of singing then widdly guitar solo then back to singing but this is stretched on the instrumentals that feature no let up in the fret wankery and pushes you over the edge on the 20 minute plus title track which sounds like a symphony that has been crashed by an electric guitar. The reason why Rhapsody (or whatever they are both called now) are still going is that behind the technical mastery of their instruments lays songwriting that while cliched is slick and at the forefront. Sage's Recital are trying a bit to hard to be like Rhapsody and are just falling short, songwriting and specialism are hard things to balance and Sage's Ritual seem to be more of Robin Reliant than Porsche 911. 6/10